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A Psychology of Muscles

A recent in depth look at knee pain and psychological factors concluded that an increase in pain intensity and perceived breadth of the painful area in patellofemoral syndrome was accompanied with an abnormal psychology. Graduating the author with a PhD and a prestigious best PhD prize to inform us all to regard patellofemoral pain syndrome in a wider context and not just as a mechanical dysfunction (1). Patellofemoral Pain syndrome is a muscle and joint disorder sometimes written as MSK.

If I was in pain I’d move funny, as well, and not just in my knee. A 2004 study demonstrated that typing speed and the control of force in keystrokes in symptomatic and asymptomatic office workers was different. However, this same study found an improvement in typing speed and finger control when ergonomic support was provided (2). Hinting at a psychological component. Another study looked at the way in which we might use our muscles in standard movements, not everyone types! In which, psychological complaints predicted higher muscle activity with an even steeper rise in muscle tension in those muscles unrelated to the task, with sleep disturbance being the best predictor of increased muscle tone (tightness) (3).

In real life outside of a study we humans are learning constantly. This means in the context of muscles we are adapting to how things are and if my muscles are higher in tone then that’s what they are. Normal muscle tone increases with stress becoming tighter, even at rest and over time we accumulate muscular tone from the stresses that bother us. Chiropractic Care can alter resting muscle tone. That means that if you decide to tackle your increased muscle tone without your Chiropractor by exercising (increasing tone further) then you’ll seem to be on a linear path of always getting the same. A fait complete.

Common sense tells us that we are affected in our posture by how we feel and now science is telling us that how we feel also affects the way in which our brain uses our muscles and joints. To be able to get over reoccurring MSK issues the body is no longer to be seen as a machine (1). By increasing our exercise levels we can certainly feel different but we don’t necessarily reduce our tightness or correct imbalances that have arisen from occupational, family, psychosocial and relational issues (aka ‘life’). Utilising the services of your Chiropractor can help you to look after the tone, tightness and motor control of your muscles and joints. Muscles and joints that can work together can last longer.

References:

1. Maclachlan L (2020) Psychological Features and Somatosensory Characteristics of Patellofemoral Pain (PhD Academy Award). Br J Sports Med 0 1-2
2. Szeto GPY et al (2005) Effects of Typing Speed and Motor Control in symptomatic and Asymptomatic Office Workers. Int J of Industrial Ergonomics 35 779-795
3. Steingrimsdottir OA et al (2004) Relationship between MSK and Psychological Complaints in Standardised Cognitive and Motor Tasks. European J of Pain 9 311-324

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